Edward Rudolf, a young Sunday school teacher, found two of his pupils begging for food on the streets and was moved to act.

In the late nineteenth century, Edward Rudolf, a young Sunday school teacher and civil servant in South London, found himself confronted by the brutal effects of poverty on the lives of children.

When two young boys failed to turn up for his Sunday school, he went to look for them and was shocked to find them begging for food on the streets. Their father had died, leaving their mother struggling to bring up seven children under 11 years old.

Theirs was not an isolated experience and Rudolf was moved to act.

He approached Archbishop Tait to express his concern for children living on the margins of society and suggesting that the Church of England should be at the forefront of social action for such children. The Archbishop agreed enthusiastically and, soon after, the Church of England Central Home for Waifs and Strays was established.

Edward Rudolf

Edward Rudolf

Edward Rudolf founded The Children's Society in 1881.

several children standing before one of our first children's homes

1881 to 1970

Edward Rudolf, our founder, envisioned a charity that gave poor, homeless children a loving and secure family environment.

about 20 children sitting for a class photograph

1970 to 1990

In the last quarter of the twentieth century the Children’s Society changed its focus towards helping your people solve their own problems.

children in nurse uniforms

1990 to 2002

During the 1990s we moved into a new era of working for social justice.

Edward Rudolf

2003 onwards

Over the years the work of The Children's Society has changed but our child-centred values and intentions remain the same.

Volunteer

Volunteer

Our volunteers are vital to helping tackle the causes of poverty and neglect that harm children's lives

We reached 18,134 children through our children's centres last year